I've worked with 46 brands (and counting) over the last two years. Very few of them have had a distribution plan.
When asked how they plan to distribute the content I create, the usual response is "SEO" and/ or "share it on our social media channels".
This isn't a terrible plan... but it's not enough.
For instance, one of my past clients published articles three times a week. Now, that can earn you a lot of SEO credit and grow your domain rating. Yet, their top blog pages generated just over 2,000 pageviews.
There are a lot of reasons why you can blog your heart out and still not see any results:
Low domain rating
Keywords too competitive
Not using enough keywords in the article to compete (or your article isn't detailed enough)
Your articles aren't long enough to compete
You're using the wrong topics for your audience
Headlines not catching on
Improper use of keywords (keyword stuffing)
Lack of semantic keywords
Not properly formatting the article or metadata (or not paying attention to meta data at all
It's incredibly easy to fail at SEO. It's even easier to write on the wrong topics.
Look, SEO is a great method of growing your channel organically, but it can only do so much. There's only so much room on the front page of a Google search and everyone is fighting for the same space.
You need a content distribution plan. A strategy meant to get your content in front of the very people you're hoping to attract.
Why most businesses don't have a distribution plan beyond SEO and social media:
It takes a lot of time
How do you even do it? Where do you share?
Is it really worth it?
It takes a lot of time
I mention time twice because that's the biggest hurdle to content distribution. It takes time to find the appropriate channels, pitch the right people, continuously engage in the right groups.
This was the problem that Kaleigh Moore approached me with in December of 2020. She was curious how much of a difference one month of content promotion could make, and wanted me to put it to the test.
The first two weeks were largely just... figuring out the right channels and testing messages.
By the middle of the month, I made adjustments according to the engagement. By the end of the month, I'd earned her:
4,000 more pageviews
1,200 new users
1,000 new Twitter followers
A jump in referrals from Facebook by 1457%
A 48% jump in views of her coaching pages
An 18% boost to her newsletter
Over the previous month. Yes, that's just ONE MONTH of effort (more like 2 weeks of effort), in only 5-8 hours a week.
In this post, I'm going to go over the exact steps I took to gain an additional 4,000 page views (and all those other metrics above) in under a month. My hope is that you'll see the value in organic content promotion and put it to the test for your own content.
I write articles and case studies like this for my clients. Contact me if you'd like results from your content too.
The Content Promotion Challenge Kaleigh Moore Presented
Kaleigh Moore actually posed the original query to her massive Twitter following:
I'd simply replied "I do" with every intention of telling her how. She quickly slid into my DMs to learn all about my process.
A larger conversation spun from there and well... here we are.
Kaleigh is a freelancer coach and DTC copywriter, and she's absolutely blown up in the last couple of years. Meaning, she has very little time to actually distribute the content she produces for her own website- at least beyond Twitter, where she's amassed her devoted audience.
Again, this hits the challenge that most companies face (and yes, I consider Kaleigh a full-on brand).
There's just not enough time.
I'd be lying if I said I actually have time to distribute my own content. There's paying customers to take care of, ya know.
The bulk of Kaleigh's brand consists of advising new freelancers on how to grow their skills and income, as well as consulting for DTC brands. She has a newsletter and a blog, as well as several paid resources for writers and content managers- all distributed through that newsletter and Twitter.
I recommend a distribution plan to all of my clients. In fact, I even offer a content promotion checklist if they don't have a distribution plan in place.
(Here it is, if you want it too!)
*I recommend tailoring your distribution to your audience and the content itself, but a general checklist like this is always a great option to start with.
This was a unique challenge, specifically because I was promoting a lot of different pieces of content, rather than one at a time. Regardless, I maintained the same process, and it produced some great results.
Where Kaleigh Started
When I first started working with Kaleigh, I took an assessment of her content reach. Her most popular blog post was reaching 602 organic visitors a month, while her newsletter was reaching 598.
Across her website, users sat at 5,468
Unique pageviews at 10,458 (reg pageviews were at 11,719)
This really isn't bad. To be honest, it's higher than plenty of other large and medium-sized businesses with actual marketing teams.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but I'd say the largest is that Kaleigh promotes her entire brand very well. She's written for Forbes, Copyhackers, and Adweek (among others), appears on podcasts, and has a very devoted following on Twitter.
Actually, as I was doing my initial research, I found that people across platforms touted her skill and expertise, particularly in freelancer advice. This is regardless of whether or not she actually engages on the platforms.
This goes a long way in getting more engagement and reach with your content.
The Challenges In Developing The content distribution strategy
There are a heck of a lot of promotion tactics. Some of my favorites are:
Using keywords in image alt tags (SEO trick that gets you into Google images)
Speaking with influencers before you publish (give them an insider view)
Backlinking strategies up the wazoo
Paid social ads/ boosting posts
And all of those really should be considerations for your content distribution planning, but I didn't do any of that here.
First, I only had a month to showcase the power of organic content distribution. So, that automatically eliminates backlinking. It can take quite a bit of time and you may or may not get results (and certainly nothing fast).
Second, I didn't have the ability to alter image alt tags, the money to pay for ads, or the rapport with influencers to make any impact.
I actually think that's a better perspective for the purposes of this case, since most of you are likely in the same place (besides the alt tags... I hope you have access to your CMS).
Again, we're all low on time. Holding onto a few great strategies is optimal.
Organic Content Promotion: The Process
Whether you're promoting or distributing one piece of content or several, it all starts with one task:
Seriously though, I hope you've done a bit of research for your content strategy... distribution is just part of that overall strategy. It's not separate... at all.
If you're not making distribution a serious part of your content strategy, you're missing out on targeted traffic.
Not just extra traffic, but targeted.
That's what this post is about.
And we want to go beyond simply sharing on:
Your Twitter account
Your Facebook page
Your LinkedIn account
Your email list
Every point on that list is full of an audience YOU'VE ALREADY ACQUIRED
Meaning, they've already bought into what you're selling and it's likely your company isn't going out of its way to engage thoroughly enough across these channels to really reach new audiences.
I wanted to get as far beyond this as I could in the limited time I had to promote Kaleigh's articles, but taking the time I needed to do audience research made it possible to get greater results faster.
Here's what it took...
Step 1: Audience Insights
Kaleigh provided me with some great insights into the audience we were focusing on- novice freelancer writers.
(It did help that I'm a freelancer myself, and was already engaged in several freelancer groups)
Just from her insights, I had a couple groups to get involved in, keywords to focus on, and pain points.
I then dug into Google for my own insights, creating a spreadsheet of Facebook groups, Reddit threads, Quora questions, and hashtags to stream from Twitter.
I also added tabs for influencers and another for link roundups.
These were the primary channels I'd focus on, where I'd engage regularly to share as a community member rather than a spammer.
Step 2: Organizing Resources
It may seem a bit mundane, but because I was promoting dozens of articles rather than just one at a time, I needed to do a bit of organizing.
It wasn't just about laying all of these articles out on a spreadsheet. Rather, it was about prioritizing articles based on their initial inertia of publication, as well as their keywords.
Run Kaleigh's website through Ahref's to see her top pages
Double check this on Google Analytics
Also run her site through Buzzsumo to see the most shared articles
Add the focus keywords of each of these articles to a spreadsheet along with the links
Once everything was organized, I created bitly links for each of the articles, so I could track links across certain sites (certain sites, like Reddit, won't let you use link shorteners).
*I organized them into different topics too (in blue)
Step 3: Bookmarking
Before publishing, I went ahead and bookmarked every single article across various aggregators:
It's actually incredibly difficult to capture the ROI of this. Google Analytics will show Zest, Pocket, and Pinterest, but the rest aren't totally set in GA.
Step 4: Engagement in groups and forums
I regularly engage in groups and forums, well, for a lot of reasons, frankly.
Networking (I've made plenty of friends to vent to, share content with, and refer work to as well as receive work from)
You're more likely to get eyes on your content if you're engaging with the people you want to read it
I often get content ideas based on the conversations happening in these groups (it's a great way to identify pain points)
This is the case for all of my clients too.
If you're building a brand, you can't just... be a brand separated from the world.
You can't expect things from your readers, without giving in return. And NO, your content is not giving. It's you still asking.
Sure, you're providing value, but they know when you put it out there that you're asking for something.
You have to build that trust up by being a part of the community.
Luckily, I'd already been engaged in many of the groups on Kaleigh's channel list. So I was able to continue that... but I also ramped it up.
Previously, I'd spend maybe an hour across all of these groups. I greatly increased that and started answering more questions.
Every now and then, I'd slip in a link.
Step 5: Promotion
Promotion isn't about simply sharing articles in as many places as you can. It's about being part of a community and providing value regularly. That means contributing. Answering. Offering resources.
Don't just waltz into these groups, start sharing links, and expect people to respond.
"Oh, thank you kind stranger"...
Not how it works.
Instead, they'll just report you as spam.
To more effectively promote your content, answer questions and comment on other posts as a human being and "expert" in whatever field or industry you're in. Build a bit of a rapport.
Then, just slip in an occasional link, almost as a side remark. Almost like it just came to you.
"Oh, I could continue answering, but this piece explains it better"
This applies to all forums and groups.
Twitter is a little trickier because you can only build up that rapport with your followers. However, you can still use it to increase reach.
I set up Hootesuite to follow certain hashtags. It created streams of conversation, and I simply skimmed through to find relevant conversations- usually calls for advice- and then offered the links as well as an actual, valuable answer or comment.
Well, Quora is one of the easiest places to place your links. It's also a great place to get backlinks, since many sites use Quora to find subject matter experts (I know I do).
It's simply a matter of finding questions based on the topics and keywords from the articles and inserting a nice long, helpful answer with a link.
*It's better to make the link internal, but I added the full name of the article to drive a little more attention to it. I alternated with this method and internal links.
Reddit is one of those places where you can easily be marked as spam, and you won't even know it either. You don't get a notification. You just won't show up in people's feeds anymore.
Frankly, you can really only add one link per month to any particular "space" within Reddit.
Step 6: Adjustment
About 2 weeks in, I took a look at the stats to see what was working and what wasn't. Frankly, even though Quora was bringing in results, it wasn't doing it fast enough.
Quora is a great place to post content, and I got plenty of views there. But Quora is a long term strategy, great for sharing over time.
I didn't have time.
Besides, Kaleigh's main channel of focus, Twitter, was grabbing the most impressive results along with Facebook groups.
So that's where I put my focus for the remaining two weeks.
What Happens When You Promote Articles
Relying on SEO isn't a bad strategy. In fact, I'd say good organic traffic through optimization is the goal, but most of you aren't gaining the traction you'd hope to see on your articles.
You're also not seeing the conversions.
When you focus on building an audience, and adding value in front of your hopeful customers, you're more like to get more eyes AND more conversions.
The proof is in the results I produced for Kaleigh.
1,000 new Twitter followers in less than a month
4,000 new users for her website
Increased time on page
Increase to the number of pages viewed per session to 1.73 (from 1.68)
Increase to her coaching page by 48%
Increase of newsletter page views by 18%
Increase to her one popular article by 3,380%
Decrease in bounce rate by 1%
Increase in all social channel engagement
Clearly, the results are worth the additional time it takes to go through these channels and really engage. If you notice, pages like "about", "newsletter", and "coaching" all had a pretty good increase in traffic.
In fact, the boosts to her site centered more on those pages than on the articles I'd shared.
Lessons for Anyone Trying to Figure Out How To Promote Articles To Get Traffic
If you don't have a lot of time to publish articles, pick just one per month, and spent a few hours spreading the word about it with social listening
Engage in groups your audience would hang out in, it'll help you in more ways than one.
Focus on delivering value and speaking like a human, not just sharing your content.
Get organized, and create a sheet of places to spread your content.
Take content distribution seriously, it can offer some great results.
Like these results? Learn more about what I can do for you, here.